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Archive for Friday, September 25, 2009

Line forms early among those seeking free dental care from clinic

Services ease pain, financial anxiety, and put smiles on many faces

The Douglas County Dental Clinic offered free dental care to more than 60 patients on Sept. 25, 2009. Dr. Ed Manda, left, and dental hygienist Michele Ritzman worked together on Edna Butler, who came in with a broken tooth.

The Douglas County Dental Clinic offered free dental care to more than 60 patients on Sept. 25, 2009. Dr. Ed Manda, left, and dental hygienist Michele Ritzman worked together on Edna Butler, who came in with a broken tooth.

September 25, 2009

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Residents take advantage at dentist

Lawrence residents without insurance took advantage of free dental services Friday. The local clinic worked for free helping those in need. Enlarge video

People wait for their number to be called at the Douglas County Dental Clinic in September 2009. A line formed early for the chance to receive free services, and all available 65 spots were filled by 7 a.m.

People wait for their number to be called at the Douglas County Dental Clinic in September 2009. A line formed early for the chance to receive free services, and all available 65 spots were filled by 7 a.m.

The need for health care reform was evident Friday morning as people lined up outside Douglas County Dental Clinic in hopes of being one of the lucky ones to receive free dental care.

The clinic, 316 Maine, had 25 volunteers, including dentists, hygienists and dental assistants, to provide care for low-income and uninsured patients on a first-come, first-served basis. Sixty-five people received help.

The first person arrived at 3:30 a.m. and slept on the front porch as others lined up behind him. By 5:30 a.m. when executive director Julie Branstrom arrived, 30 people waited in the parking lot. By 7 a.m., all 65 spots were filled.

Drawing No. 56, Kansas University student Tanya Rezayazdi, 23, said she felt fortunate.

“I just made it,” she said with a smile.

Rezayazdi said was dropped from her parents’ insurance a couple of months ago because of her age. She recently had dental X-rays that cost $200, and she was told that she had two cavities that needed to be filled and it would cost another $300. It was something she couldn’t afford.

Luckily, her parents saw information about the free clinic.

“I have to get this done,” Rezayazdi said, adding that she was grateful for the free clinic.

Those same sentiments were repeated many times over by people who waited in the parking lot Friday morning to see a dentist.

R.J. Quigley, 25, Lawrence, has been unemployed for a couple of months and hasn’t had health or dental insurance for about five years.

“I’ve got some wisdom teeth that need to be extracted very, very badly,” he said as he sat on the curb of the parking lot. Pain comes and goes, and it’s a nuisance.

Quigley said he would put up with the pain until it became absolutely unbearable.

“Without insurance, the cost is pretty astronomical,” he said.

Unfortunately, Branstrom said she hears stories such as Quigley’s often. The clinic, which serves uninsured, low-income patients, has seen a 9 percent increase in appointments this year compared to last year.

Additionally, the clinic has seen a 26 percent increase in the number of uninsured adults who qualify for services at its lowest fee level. That level is $22,050 per year for a family of four.

“When you can’t afford to go to the dentist. You typically operate in crisis mode and as much as we would like to get people in here on a regular basis for preventative care, when it comes down to whether you have money to put food on the table or go to the dentist, that’s not an easy choice to make,” Branstrom said. “A lot of times, they don’t come here until they can’t take the pain anymore.”

Douglas County Medical Corps volunteer Paula Hladky said helping with the second annual Free Dental Day event was eye-opening.

“We take these gifts that we have — dental care and medical care — for granted, and today it shows us how many people are in need,” she said. “For some, it’s been 15 years since they’ve seen a dentist. Sometimes I think at the end of six months, ‘Oh, I am glad it’s time to go because I feel the need.’ I can’t imagine 15 years. But everyone of these people know how important it is that they get in.”

Single mother Kendra Rodriquez, 24, is a school bus driver and raising two children — ages, 4 and 1. She got in line at 5 a.m. because her front tooth was starting to chip away. She hasn’t had dental insurance since turning 19.

“I think it is really awesome that they are doing this for people who can’t afford the medical care,” she said. “I just haven’t been able to find a job where I can afford the insurance.”

By day’s end, the clinic provided $13,563 in care. That included 65 examinations, 46 fillings, two root canals, 12 extractions and 12 cleanings.

The dentists who provided time and services were Cheryl Biesterfeld, Kelly Farmer, John Hay, Brent Jones, Ed Manda, Richard Valbuena, Matt Krische and Phil Gaus.

“We really could not do this without their help,” Branstrom said.

Comments

Raymond Munoz 5 years, 2 months ago

Thank you cowboy... we appreciate it! The clinic would like to thank all the dentists, hygienists, assistants, and volunteers that made this event possible!

linswri 5 years, 2 months ago

I will make sure to patronize these lovely dentists in the future. What a wonderful gift you've given so many people...and it shows that you do your job as much for helping people as you do for the paycheck.

Dayna Lee 5 years, 2 months ago

I think the real problem is that when you have "affordable" dental insurance, you take it for granted. You figure you're only paying a couple of dollars a month and let those 2 cleanings a year go to waste thinking your teeth aren't that bad. I encourage those of you that do have dental insurance, or even that can just afford to do it, to stimulate these dentists. Maybe we can get all local dentists to give a weekend if it means a busy week?

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

my dentist and kids' ortho was involved, and am glad i patronize caring individuals

KEITHMILES05 5 years, 2 months ago

Why should the government fund free dental care?

willie_wildcat 5 years, 2 months ago

My dentist (Dr. Manda) volunteered for this and I wish we had more who would volunteer for this!

Christine Anderson 5 years, 2 months ago

Dentists are evil!! Just kidding. I have feared dentists since '70. My childhood dentist was awful. Wouldn't use nitrous when it became available. Anyway, my fear of dentists contributed to the fact that at 45, I now have only four of my natural teeth left. Kudos to Dr. Brent Jones for making me an upper denture back in 2001 which is so realistic most people don't know unless I tell them. And Dr. Gaus, you;re my hero for getting rid of those eleven on the bottom row. Now to wait out the "shrinkage" period and head back to Dr. Jones or Juarez, Mexico for the lower partial, whomever is cheaper.

Bill Lee 5 years, 2 months ago

Keithmiles05,

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

I'll bet the people who received the free dental care are a lot more tranquil today. Promoting the general welfare is something the government needs to more of, not less.

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

The need for health care reform was evident Friday morning as people lined up outside Douglas County Dental Clinic in hopes of being one of the lucky ones to receive free dental care.

Huh??? Is there dental care in the bill? I don't think so! Is this a plea for adding it? Who pays? I guess the liberals will not be satisfied until everyone but the elites are reduced to a commion financial level independent of education or contribution - it will probably not be much more than we allocate to an individual on welfare today. So much for working hard over a lifetime.

Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Moderate (George Lippencott) says… The need for health care reform was evident Friday morning as people lined up outside Douglas County Dental Clinic in hopes of being one of the lucky ones to receive free dental care.

Huh??? Is there dental care in the bill? I don't think so! Is this a plea for adding it? Who pays? I guess the liberals will not be satisfied until everyone but the elites are reduced to a commion financial level independent of education or contribution - it will probably not be much more than we allocate to an individual on welfare today. So much for working hard over a lifetime. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I don't know if dental care is included or not but dental care can play a big part in one's health.

Several examples: Gingivitis is related to heart disease. Loose teeth are related to overall bone health. People can and do die from tooth infections.

Oral health is a good indicator of general overall health and dentists can alert people to potential conditions that require medical intervention.

Randall Barnes 5 years, 2 months ago

AWESOME JOB...I GUESS KEITHMILES05 DONT UNDERSTAND THESE DENTIST VOLUNTEERED THERE TIME FOR THIS THE GOVERNMENT ISN'T PAYING THEM.THIS WAS A TOTALLY FREE FROM ANY GOV'T FUNDING.......IF KEITH EVER LOOSES HIS JOB AND INSURANCE I HOPE HE DON'T NEED ANY HEALTH CARE

Christine Anderson 5 years, 2 months ago

Can anyone comment on the notion of an American going down to Mexico for dentures? Ks state insurance currently does not pay for dentures. Any dentists out there have input? Anyone been down there?

Christine Anderson 5 years, 2 months ago

Juarez, here I come! I just did some price checking of several places in Lawrence and the KC area, including Bonner. Heck, even with the cost of airfare, motel, and obtaining a passport, it is still cheaper. Won't be taking place for several months, though. Should be kind of amusing to the border guards; a gringo woman who has never been out of the U.S. I will not plan to use what little Spanish I speak, as I learned it from inmates in the prison where I worked, and i have no idea what they were really teaching me!

bookemdano 5 years, 2 months ago

Take any selfless act someone does for the community... someone will find some excuse to bitch about it. Utterly pathetic.

LawrenceObserver 5 years, 2 months ago

Hooray for Dr. Manda and all the dentists! Dr. Manda is a wonderful dentist and human being as I'm sure all of these giving people are. Thank you!

Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

misplacedcheesehead (Anonymous) says…

Can anyone comment on the notion of an American going down to Mexico for dentures? Ks state insurance currently does not pay for dentures. Any dentists out there have input? Anyone been down there? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I see a billboard for $199 dentures for a KC place on I-70 on the way to KC. Don't remember the name though.

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

"Loose teeth are related to overall bone health."

Um - loose teeth do not cause your bones to be unhealthy - more likely the other way 'round.

Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

notajayhawk (Anonymous) says… “Loose teeth are related to overall bone health.”

Um - loose teeth do not cause your bones to be unhealthy - more likely the other way 'round. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yes, and that is why I said they are related. If I meant "caused by", I would have posted "caused by".

feeble 5 years, 2 months ago

If you can get there, and don't mind being worked on by students supervised by professors (most of the professors have 30+ years of experience, each), the UMKC dental school does offer some dental services, typically at 50%-70% cost, as compared to private practice. They also accept Missouri Medicare.

I would posit that those discounting the importance of dentistry have never spent weeks going hungry because they were in too much pain to eat or unable to sleep for weeks on end, for the same reason, or ended up losing portions of their jaw due to advanced periodontal disease.

Tooth and jaw pain is tragic, because it is pervasive and crippling, while at the same time treatable or preventable, if one has access to annual cleanings or minor dental work (fillings, etc).

Christine Anderson 5 years, 2 months ago

Bookemdano, I'm not bitching about the services these selfless professionals provided. I would never, ever expect the free dental care day to include dentures. It would be cost-prohibitive for the clinic. All I'm saying is that the particular dental service I need is not covered by my insurance, and therefore, I'm seriously considering going to Mexico. If you note carefully, I thanked one of the dentists and the oral surgeon for care they've given me, one as recently as the first part of this month. Yes, of course, it is an incredible thing they do.

bookemdano 5 years, 2 months ago

misplacedcheesehead - I wasn't referring to your posts. I was talking about the moron who thought this was "free government dental care" and the other poster who could only find the time to criticize the clinic for not doing more with their limited resources. And let's not forget "Moderate in name only" George, who managed to find some way to get into yet another rant about how he doesn't think this nation's citizens should have any (well aside from his Medicare) government health care.

It would just be really nice if you blowhards could read an article about good deeds done for other people and find some words of gratitude, appreciation, or encouragement to post along with your self-aggrandizement.

And Brent Jones is my dentist too. Kudos to him and all the other volunteers for giving back to the community.

George Lippencott 5 years, 2 months ago

bookemdano (Anonymous) says…

Huh?? You must have missed my post on reform my way - it was not free market. Sorry, did not include dental care.

Where does the money come from for all the things you want ?? That is a question no one on these posts wanting everything ever answers.

jonas_opines 5 years, 2 months ago

multiD: "but they actually do fit in the income brackets and should be illegible."

I'm sure many of them are illegible. Maybe that's why they were turned out, no one could understand them at all.

B^)>

madmadsmom 5 years, 2 months ago

To misplacecheesehead : about going to Mexico for dental work - don't do it!! Mexico has very poor standards when it comes to dental education and training. Yes, it is so affordable, but you will need to have it redone when you come back to the US!

To multidisciplinary: The clinic only lists examples of proof of income on the website. If you think you may qualify, call!!! Yes, it is too bad the free dental day couldn't serve everyone that needs it. But it did help 65 very deserving people. Let's not turn a very good thing into a bad thing. Seriously.

To keithmiles05: The clinic is not government funded by any means. No tax money was used for free dental day. All volunteers that day were strictly volunteers, and supplies were donated.

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